During the Second World War, the British Air Ministry produced a series of maps of German cities. These were known as Zone Maps. Shown here is a map of Dresden, and a poster-guide to the maps. The maps provided the Allies with information for their bombing campaign against Germany. The offensive waged against German cities was at the heart of the Allied strategy to win the war.
The aerial photographs on the guide were designed to help pilots identify different urban areas from above: old irregular streets, tenement buildings, modern offices, built-up industrial areas. A coloured diagram in the centre of the guide shows how these areas are represented on the Zone Maps themselves. Highly built-up city centres are shown in solid red, built-up suburban areas in red vertical lines.
The maps were produced in December 1943, just over a year before British air raids destroyed Dresden. Almost 2000 Allied bombers dropped 3000 tons of bombs on to the city, including 650,000 incendiaries on the city centre. The resulting fire-storm virtually erased the city, killing between 35,000 and 135,000 people.